Driving a 'people mover' van in snowy conditions.

Sbooker

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https://www.chrysler.com/pacifica/gallery.html
I will need a six seat vehicle for a planned trip. These vans are much cheaper than a big SUV wagon. Has anyone had experience driving these things on icy and snowy roads? I'm assuming they are only two wheel drive. It would have winter or at least M and S tyres though.
Thanks in advance.
 

Crystal

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We rent a large SUV each year in Canada...I have often asked my +1 if he would go this option as it's cheaper. Flat answer of NO with a very sour look. No explanation ever given. I don't question as I don't drive over there unless it's all gone to shit and the whole party is drunk except me :)
 

Sbooker

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We rent a large SUV each year in Canada...I have often asked my +1 if he would go this option as it's cheaper. Flat answer of NO with a very sour look. No explanation ever given. I don't question as I don't drive over there unless it's all gone to shit and the whole party is drunk except me :)

Thanks.
That is my instinct too. I'm the driver in our party.
 

KylePee

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Have always gone small SUV over there, however van experience at home: more likely that the van is underpowered vs an SUV, more likely to have smaller rubber (both wheel diameter and width) leading to reduced grip. If something were to go wrong, the ground clearance is against you in a van so it will 'beach' easier (like the person we helped dig/push out in Japan this year).
Luggage space can often be a little more functional in an SUV
 

Donza

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It's amazing hire car firms in NA snowy areas don't have snow tyres fitted to their cars.
 

LMB

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I think @LMB has experience with these.
Not in the USA. We did hire a big 12 seat yank tank when we took the kids to Disney as little munchkins - but not on snowy roads.
PB drove, not me. And at the time he just had a C class licence so that was not a problem.

I’ve driven a multitude of vehicles including Hiace van in Hokkaido. But - snowtyres. I’m sure you’ll be fine.
 

absentskier

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https://www.chrysler.com/pacifica/gallery.html
I will need a six seat vehicle for a planned trip. These vans are much cheaper than a big SUV wagon. Has anyone had experience driving these things on icy and snowy roads? I'm assuming they are only two wheel drive. It would have winter or at least M and S tyres though.
Thanks in advance.
Short answer is that with only M&S tyres, I feel much safer with a 4wd. With proper winter tyres (which you won’t get on a rental), 2wd van would be fine.
 

Astro66

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Drove a Dodge Caravan FWD in Northern US and Inland BC, with all-season tyres, and bought $50 cable chains from walmart. Drove through a lot of snow. Traction Control seemed to work it out, so I didn't lose traction. Only used chains on steep road up to our condo, because it wasn't ploughed much. Otherwise I had no issues.

I will say this. It requires so much more focus and concentration than a 4WD with M+S. It really makes the driving in marginal weather super stressful. Any mistake in judgment of traction, or slowing down, or sharpness of bend, and you'll be off the road. In marginal conditions, you'll need to go significantly slower than the 4WD.

Would I do it again ? If you're not time pressured. Absolutely. If you have all pre-booked accommodations and activity. No way. Get the 4WD.
 
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tr+h

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I’ve driven 4WD in Us and Canadia and the last trip to Japan I drove a people mover. In Japan we were carrying skis with us every day so made sense and very easy. With 5 people, luggage stowage was about same although superior in Japan for sticking a big ski bag down the middle of the car.

In terms of driving, much the same. I drove to the conditions. Let the weight of the car slow the people mover down and easy on the brakes. Despite a big dump on a couple of days, clearance wasn’t an issue because roads around villages well maintained. Probably didn’t drive around villages as fast because of speed limits and not trying to keep up with @gareth_oau like in Canada! This trip we weren’t driving cross country or any long highways which is where I’ve enjoyed the 4WD.

Overall people mover was superior for our 5 in Japan trip though.
 

Sbooker

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Drove a Dodge Caravan FWD in Northern US and Inland BC, with all-season tyres, and bought $50 cable chains from walmart. Drove through a lot of snow. Traction Control seemed to work it out, so I didn't lose traction. Only used chains on steep road up to our condo, because it wasn't ploughed much. Otherwise I had no issues.

I will say this. It requires so much more focus and concentration than a 4WD with M+S. It really makes the driving in marginal weather super stressful. Any mistake in judgment of traction, or slowing down, or sharpness of bend, and you'll be off the road. In marginal conditions, you'll need to go significantly slower than the 4WD.

Would I do it again ? If you're not time pressured. Absolutely. If you have all pre-booked accommodations and activity. No way. Get the 4WD.

Thanks. Great first hand advice.
I'll spend the extra dough to ensure less dramas and stress.
 
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chunky

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I've always felt more secure in our 4wd but saying that you still need to drive to the conditions. I've done the Dodge Caravan in the snow over there and didn't have issues but still preferred the 4wd.
 

CarveMan

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Short answer is that with only M&S tyres, I feel much safer with a 4wd. With proper winter tyres (which you won’t get on a rental), 2wd van would be fine.
This.

I actually deliberately chose a Volvo station wagon for our current trip as it is AWD and has Winter tyres. But I absolutely agree with you that 2WD with winter tyres is preferable to 4WD without.
 
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iagreewithhim

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4WDs go better than 2WDs due to more driving wheels. They also corner better. When you're STOPPING, on the other hand, you don't have any more brakes. On top of that, the 4WD is likely to be heavier and, given the greater sense of security, you're likely to be going faster.
 
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sly_karma

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We had a couple of Chrysler minivans back when the kids were younger and into the teens. Also had a GMC minivan with AWD. Lots of ski trips over the years. The Chryslers always got full winters whilst the AWD van was fine with M+S. Absent and Astro and others have hit the nail pretty well: you can make it work with FWD and quality rubber, but it's a lot easier with AWD/4WD. The highways are pretty well maintained in BC, and the grades and corners are well engineered for the most part. Very rarely will you run into conditions where FWD isn't enough. Remember all those trucks and buses out there are running RWD and they usually only chain up when required to by police. Where you might run into traction issues is in the steep streets and driveways of the ski resorts and mountain towns, you could only need 4WD for a few seconds but it's the difference between getting stuck or getting on with your day.
 
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